Shirley Anita Chisholm: First Black woman elected to U.S. Congress, first African American to seek U.S. presidential nomination from one of the two major political parties; the late New York City civil rights leader’s accolades are endless. Earlier this week, construction broke ground on the Shirley Chisholm Recreational Center designed by Studio Gang in East Flatbush, Brooklyn not far from where Chisholm grew up in Bedford–Stuyvesant. The Shirley Chisholm Recreational Center will be built on top of pre-existing basketball courts and a soccer field at the Nostrand Avenue Playground and pays homage to Chisholm’s legacy.
“A portrait of Shirley Chisholm hangs proudly in Brooklyn Borough Hall, reminding us every day that Black and brown voices belong here, in our city, our state, and our nation,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “I’m thrilled that we will continue to honor Chisholm’s contributions to Black excellence and the strength of our democracy with the new Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center in East Flatbush.”
The new construction project follows a separate initiative that will deliver a monument to Shirley Chisholm near Prospect Park by Olalekan Jeyifous and Amanda Williams approved by the New York City Council last July. Upon completion, the $141 million Shirley Chisholm Recreational Center in East Flatbush will include a new public gymnasium; fitness, strength, and cardio rooms; walking track; indoor swimming pool; a media lab; and teaching kitchen. The media lab will be named after Dr. Roy Hastick, a long time community advocate on behalf of East Flatbush.
The project is being designed and built through the DDC’s design-build pilot program, which puts design and construction services on one contract instead of multiple as with the typically used lowest-bidder contracting system. Under this method project delivery happens earlier than with the previous contracting system and construction can kick off while design is still underway. Construction is set for completion at the end of 2025. McKissack & McKissack, the oldest minority- and women-owned construction and design firm in the country, will be the construction coordinator on the project.
Renderings depict the new recreation center with a masonry facade marked by angular, arched entries and windows on the ground floor. Surrounding the recreation center there will be landscaped gardens and wide pathways.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to honor Shirley Chisholm’s legacy of public service with a building that will be a true community asset,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal and partner, Studio Gang. “We designed this building to welcome everyone to gather, learn and play together, and enjoy the park in a renewed way.”